Mortgage rate reports came in mixed for the latest week as better than expected housing news contended with continued economic struggles overseas.
Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey saw a slight drop in the 30-year fixed rate to an average 3.63 percent (0.7 point) for the week ending January 22, the company reported Thursday. With the decline, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) remains at its lowest average since May 2013.
The 15-year FRM also lost a few basis points, tipping to 2.93 percent (0.6 point), Freddie Mac reported.
"Mortgage rates continued to fall, albeit at a slower pace," said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist for Freddie Mac.
Nothaft pointed to Wednesday's report on December housing starts as one of the reasons for the slower descent. Homebuilders began new construction at a rate of 1.09 million units last month, and initial estimates put 2014's full-year construction total at above 1 million for the first time since 2007.
Adjustable rates were flat to down for the week. According to Freddie, the 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged a rate of 2.83 percent (0.4 point) for the week, down from 2.90 percent previously. The 1-year ARM was unchanged at 2.37 percent (0.4 point).
In contrast, Bankrate.com reported a slight gain in its weekly rates survey, putting the 30-year fixed average at 3.81 percent from last week's 3.80 percent. The 15-year fixed and 5/1 ARM were both also up for the week, rising to 3.18 percent and 3.19 percent, respectively.
"Mortgage rates moved up slightly in the past week, but remain at among the lowest levels since May 2013," Bankrate said. "Financial markets continue to be gripped by worries about the global economy, with terrorism and unrest only adding to the concerns. Those concerns, coupled with the expectation of quantitative easing from the European Central Bank, are keeping bond yields and mortgage rates at very low levels."